Marketing isn't necessarily the best way to build a book of business.

I’m channel agnostic.

I’m not married to Facebook ads, or social media in general, or email marketing, or Google Adwords–because I don’t believe any single marketing type is a “one size fits all” solution. Each and every business has its own needs, which means the same marketing strategy that works for a service company won’t necessarily work for a product company, what works for an entertainment company won’t always work for an IT company, etc.

I have been on both sides of the fence: working within an advertising agency, and founding a company needing to drive sales.

One thing I notice (time and time again) is that companies prioritize marketing over just about everything.

Before they’ve ironed out all their internal processes, before they’ve tested their own messaging, before they’ve taken the time to understand what their core business even is, they look for marketing agencies–or ask how they can market themselves. They turn on the Facebook ad faucet, they blast their company’s manifesto into a few press features, and then they wait.

At the same time, do you know what happens?

An inbound customer walks through the door. “Hello, I’d like to buy what you have.”

The business owner (who is currently on the phone with their brand new “marketing specialist”) forgets to respond–to their email, to their call, etc.

You’d be surprised how often this happens.

The unfortunate truth is most businesses spend money on marketing before they even have a process for walking new leads through the door.

A prospective customer shows up and everyone starts running around internally. They have no idea how to handle it, who the customer should be talking to, whose responsibility it is to facilitate the relationship.

In short: they don’t have a sales team.

This is a massive problem.

Companies don’t think they need a sales team, because “sales” implies headsets and cold calling.

But that’s not what sales is all about.

Sales also involves having people monitor your inbound leads, and make sure those inbound leads are converted into customers as quickly, efficiently, and effectively as possible.

Instead, all this money is spent on marketing for customers to start banging down their doors, without taking the time to question what happens when those customers actually arrive. Who is going to talk to them? Whose job is it to make sure those leads get converted?

And if you, the founder or CEO say, “That’s my job,” then you’re dealing with a business without scale. You cannot be personally responsible for closing each and every new customer that walks in the door.

Yet, many companies are run this way.

If you are spending money on marketing before you have built a sales team, you’re wasting your money.

With a sales team, leads become customers.

Even with product companies, people are going to have questions. People are going to want a little customer service before they make their purchase. Customer service and sales could be wrapped into the same category–if you’re still in the early stages of building your company. But to have an entire department focused on marketing without also having at least someone in charge of carrying those leads to the finish line is a massive mistake.

Invest in sales and roles within your company that can nurture prospective relationships.

Only after you have that need filled, should you start worrying about marketing.